EDMUND D. WOLFE (1853–1921)

Edmund D. Wolfe (courtesy of Ann McClary)

Edmund D. Wolfe (courtesy of Ann McClary)

Edmund Dean Wolfe was baptized on October 19, 1853, in Vermillion Township, LaSalle County, Illinois. He was the son of Maurice Richard Wolfe, who bred horses and came from a Catholic farming family, and Johanna Downey Wolfe. His godparents were Bart Hepler and Anna Kearney. He had eight siblings: Margaret (b. 1827), Richard Downey (b. 1829), Stephen (b. 1833), James Downey (b. 1839), Johanna E. (b. 1840), Catherine “Kate” (b. 1842), Maurice (b. 1848), and John Francis (b. 1850).

Wolfe's parents and all but one of his siblings had immigrated to the United States in 1849, settling with other Wolfes in LaSalle County.

Census data suggests that in 1880, Wolfe may have been living in District 87, Kanabec, Minnesota, working as a laborer in the household of T. P. McKussick.

On December 29, 1886, Wolfe married Margaret Estella Mooney, a native of Medina, Peoria County, Illinois, at Saint Joseph's Church in the city of Peoria. The couple had five children: Johanna Irene "Gerena" (b. 1887), William Anthony (b. 1889), Edward "Don" (b. 1891), Richard (b. 1896), and Maurice Eugene (b. 1897). Richard Wolfe died within days of his birth.

In 1887, Wolfe owned a hardware and general store in Peoria. Then, sometime around 1891, he moved to Superior, Wisconsin, working initially in real estate. In 1892 he operated Wolfe & Maher Grocers with his nephew Maurice Edward Maher, son of his sister Margaret.

On June 14, 1893, he signed a mortgage worth $3,000 to purchase Lot 18, Block 26, in Anaconda, Montana, a debt he discharged in July 1894. Located in southwestern Montana, Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, was mining country. Marcus Daly, an immigrant from County Cavan, Ireland, founded the town in 1883 and attempted to name it Copperopolis, but the name was already taken. In 1893, the Amalgamated Copper Mining Company (later Anaconda Copper Mining Company) formed, with Daly as vice president. In 1895, Daly opened a smelter near the town, and city directories from 1896 and 1898 indicate that Wolfe worked there. Wolfe's cousin, Catherine "Kate" Wolfe Fitzgerald, also lived in Anaconda at the time.

On July 1, 1903, Wolfe paid a $22 filing fee toward a homestead application for 160 acres near the smelter (Section 14, Township 4 North, Range 11 West). He attested to having built an eight-room, framed house on the property on May 10, 1898, and having lived there since with only a four-month absence. That absence, according to Wolfe, was provoked "by damage and sickness from smelter smoke of the smelters adjoining the homestead. We were compelled to leave." From November 22, 1902, until April 1, 1903, the family lived in Butte. His witness corroborated his story, describing "poisonous smelter fumes," and describing the property as "mountainous ... A small portion of it is agricultural and the balance of it is rocks ... He couldn't sell it for 25 cents."

By 1910 Wolfe and his family had moved to Deer Lodge City, Montana, and sometime around September 5, 1911, he and his son William purchased about 200 acres there from C. M. and Lottie Hansen with the intention of starting a dairy farm. They soon organized a business they called Big Four Dairy. In 1913, the two bought 1,100 acres of land in Idaho. According to a Montana newspaper report, "Mr. Wolfe and a younger son will operate  the stock ranch which is in the Lemhi valley, while W. A. Wolfe will keep up the interest here." On November 5, 1918, Wolfe purchased another 434 acres that was once part of the Lemhi Indian Reservation, abandoned in 1907.

Wolfe died on July 14, 1921, at his home in Lemhi, Idaho. According to an account in the Idaho Recorder, "Mrs. Wolfe had left him only a few minutes before when he was talking as usual. On her return to the room her husband had ceased to breathe. Apparently he passed on without a struggle." His wife, Margaret, died on July 22, 1946. They are buried together at Mountain View Cemetery in Dillon, Montana.